The crisis facing the home healthcare care industry has never been more severe than it is today. Just as the NAHC National Conference is taking place this week, Congress prepares to vote on health care reform bills that will decide the fate of many of these businesses. Association President Val Halamandaris explains this threat and NAHC's position in a video statement on the NAHC web site. He explains it in a very frank, clear manner and I encourage you to take a few minutes to view it here http://www.nahc.org/
President Obama has proposed $34 billion dollars in cuts to Medicare home care benefits-or roughly 11% of expenditures-while the Senate bill proposes a whopping $56 billion dollars in cuts. What is clear is that cuts are going to be made, and the compromise will likely fall somewhere between these two numbers.
This is incredibly shortsighted. Instead, we should be driving more care into the home and providing incentives for the health care system to better manage the transition of care from hospital to home. There are tremendous cost savings available here that will be productive, rather than the destructive cuts that are likely to happen.
Consider the following:
1) Lower Costs. Home health care costs a fraction of hospital and clinic-based alternatives, including skilled nursing facilities.
2) Better outcomes. Home-based care supports Aging in Place and Hospital at Home, initiatives that support patients so that they can live productive lives at home. Studies show that patients prefer to be at home and actually fare better when they are able to receive care there.
3) Reduced readmissions. Hospital readmissions run about 18% nationally and, under reform proposals, Medicare will not reimburse hospitals for them. Home health care is the optimal delivery model for the type of follow up care that has been shown to reduce readmissions by as much as 50%. As people are discharged from hospitals earlier, the focus has to shift to provide better transitional care.
4) Chronic Disease. The hospital-based model was never intended to provide the proactive care required for chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. A handful of chronic diseases account for more than three-quarters of US healthcare expenditures. This is an obvious place where patient care can be improved and hospital costs can be reduced dramatically.
It is clear that the healthcare system already has appropriate medical expertise to take care of patients better and more efficiently. What is lacking is focus on the process of coordinating and delivering that care. A focus on "Healthcare Delivery Management" will help the system achieve better outcomes with greater efficiencies, while leveraging available skills and resources.
The legislative attitude seems to be, "cut one, cut all," without regard to efficiency and efficacy. Cutting reimbursements without addressing the inefficiencies in the system simply puts greater financial stress on the model we already have.
Why not reward those who take action to reduce costs like hospital readmissions?
Why not reward those that find better ways to care for chronic diseases?
Why not simply reward the models that are the most efficient and effective?
Why not invest in programs that better manage the process of delivering care and show financial improvement?
For more about Healthcare Delivery Management and company case studies, go to http://Ankota.com.
For more about Ankota's exhibit and the conference, click here: